September 8, 2013
We are called to witness to Jesus. The baptism in the Spirit is precisely for that purpose, to be empowered to become witnesses to the ends of the earth. Part of the empowerment is the giving of spiritual gifts, both for personal sanctification and also for service. Now one very important gift is wisdom. In fact, in two listings of spiritual gifts in the Bible, wisdom is cited first (see Is 11:2 and 1 Cor 12:8). While all are called to be witnesses, while all are empowered through baptism in the Spirit, while the spiritual gifts are available to all (see 1 Cor 12:31), God gives certain gifts to certain people (see 1 Cor 12:11,29-30), for them to utilize in the service of the body. The charismatic gifts of 1 Corinthians 12 (there are other lists) are particularly for the purpose of building up the body for the work of evangelization.
Why is wisdom so important? It is because we are weak human instruments being used for divine purposes. We do God’s work. But God’s ways and thoughts are not our ways and thoughts (Is 55:8). “For who knows God’s counsel, or who can conceive what the Lord intends?” (Wis 9:13). Thus our human thinking comes in the way of God’s work and intent.
What is the way then to bridge the gap? It is the Holy Spirit, who not only empowers us to witness, but who is our Counsellor, who gives the gift of wisdom. “Or who can know your counsel, unless you give Wisdom and send your holy spirit from on high?” (Wis 9:17).
Now the call to be witnesses of and to Jesus is also a call to discipleship. Who can truly witness to Jesus other than a true disciple? One problem precisely is that those who try to witness to Jesus are not disciples, not truly following in the footsteps of the Master, and so their witness becomes negative. Just consider the scandal of clerical sex abuse, of pastors with prostitutes, of Christian leaders who lead profligate lives. Consider Protestant ministers who favor divorce, abortion and same-sex unions, and Catholics who support reproductive health. These people all speak about Jesus and the faith, but are not even true disciples!
Discipleship is not just about claiming to follow Jesus. It takes wisdom from on high. Consider the astonishing demands of discipleship as taught by Jesus himself.
Wow! The above demands of discipleship are all contrary to normal human thinking! And Christians, with their human wisdom, come up with all the excuses why they should not treat family, money, possessions, career, etc., in these ways. Inevitably, the response to the call to discipleship and being witnesses is weakened or compromised.
How can we be truly empowered to witness? We need wisdom. And we need to follow those who have been given the gift of wisdom. “Walk with the wise and you become wise” (Prv 13:20a).
We are called to walk the straight and narrow path, the path of true discipleship. We are called to live our lives for God, to do only what pleases Him. We are called to be witnesses to Jesus in the power of the Spirit. Let us pray for wisdom, and for wise men and women to lead us.
“Thus were the paths of those on earth made straight, and people learned what pleases you, and were saved by Wisdom.” (Wis 9:18).
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